Late on Friday night of the 23rd of August 1889 the gardener at Wellhall House, the residence of Colonel Stevenson, C.B., commanding the 26th and 71st regimental districts observed fire rising from storm window on the roof of the stables.
After calling the coachman he forced open the stable door, and the occupants, two valuable horses and pony, were found to have been suffocated. Word was sent to the barracks, and at the bugle call the garrison turned out in masses. The Hamilton fire brigade and under Mr Watson, arrived about the same time, and though under the disadvantage small water pressure, along with the military, they were successful in preventing the burning from spreading to the mansion-house and the adjoining offices.
About eleven o’clock the roof of the stables fell in, and before midnight the fire was virtually got under control. The extent of the damage cannot yet be estimated. One of the horses was Tel-el-Kebir, which carried Colonel Stevenson through the attack .on the Arabs’ stronghold, and was much prized.
The premises destroyed consisted of coachman’s house, four-stalled stables, baronets-room, and loose box with hay loft above the stable. A large crowd was attracted, which Captain Millar, Hamilton Burgh Police, kept in capital order.
The Laurie family of Burnbank owned one of the towns best and most noticeable businesses. They were the owners of Chieftain Buses that was based at their depot on High Blantyre Road.
In the picture above, back row L-R are James, John & David Laurie. Middle row is David & Margaret Laurie and the kids in the front row are Wilma and Bob Laurie.
The company was started by James Laurie. When he came out of the army in 1918, he started with a taxi and built it up into a bus service.
The family later moved to number 81 High Blantyre Road and then set up a bus depot right next door to their house. The business was thriving and had employed local people to work at the depot, as well as all of the Laurie family who were involved in some way.
David Laurie who is the grandson of David Laurie Snr told Historic Hamilton that “all of the family were involved in some way, driving my dad did along with coach building and my uncle’s did mechanics and driving right up to the 60’s when they sold the business”.
The family depot in Burnbank was a busy place and as previously mentioned, it employed local people who include, Carrie (Mair) Clark who was a conductress on the Hairmyres route, her sister Elsie also a clippie on the Hairmyers route, her brothers Willie and Robert all worked for the Chieftain buses for a number of years.
Robert Wilson, Bob Mair & Robert Clements were a few of the drivers on the Chieftain Buses.
The company ran all the way up to 1961 until it was taken over by the SMT group. The old Chieftain garage became Jamieson’s Builders yard for many years and later was sold to the council and it was eventually landscaped.
Historic Hamilton would like to thank David Laurie for telling us his family’s story & sharing some pictures and also Robert Stenlake for supplying some of the local pictures of the Chieftain Buses.
We would like to hear from you! What was your memories of the Cheiftan Buses at High Blantyre Road in Burnbank. Send them to us at HistoricHamilton@icloud.com
One of the major companies in Hamilton round about the turn of the 20th century was Scott, Stirling & Co!
Scott, Stirling & Co were local coach builders in the town and they were founded in 1862 under the name J & C Stirling. They started off as a small business but quickly grew due to their excellent workmanship and at the time coach building was one of the oldest industries in Hamilton.
In the year 1862 when the firm was established the business advanced rapidly. So mush so, that in a comparatively short period of time, it was found necessary to make considerable extensions, and from an original small shop, the firm now occupies an area of nearly one acre of double storied buildings, elaborately fitted with the most modern wood-working machinery.
Scott, Stirling & Co were so reputable that not only did they build coaches and do repairs in Hamilton, they did work all over Scotland, England & Northern Ireland.
They later built ambulance & fever hospital vans all equipped with the “latest improvised fittings”. They also built spring vans, message vans, bakers vans ans then moved on to light & heavy lorries.
They were noted as stating ” A supply of these vans are always on hand, or can be built at the shortest notice” They could possibly have been the Quick Fit of it’s day in the late 1800s.
Below is an advertisement for the carriage works that was gave to Historic Hamilton by Lesley Fife. There is also a Yellow outline marking where the possible site of the coach works were situated just next to the Hamilton Advertiser building, this was taken from the 1847-1895 map of Hamilton.